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Magali Pelissier (She/Her) – Meet the Mentor

Hi, I'm Magali and I'm based in London, UK. I'm a senior Product Executive specialising in data-related technology solutions, with a particular expertise in finding product-market fit and growing adoption in the B2B sector. I'm also the producer and host of the podcast Product Perspectives.
Magali Pelissier

Head of Product, SamKnows

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I wanted to practice my interpersonal skills outside of my full-time job where I didn’t have individuals reporting to me at the time. This would then enable me to seek a management opportunity in my next role.

I also thought it would be a great opportunity to meet different people and have engaging conversations. Being a mentor enables me to learn about people and organisations from the inside, as opposed to only what people usually share during networking events.

Finally, I saw this as a challenge: getting out of my comfort zone as an individual contributor. It can be hard to become a line manager, because it's a new set of skills, and also because you need to prove to the company that you can do it. And more importantly, you have to know if you enjoy being in the manager position, so mentoring was one of the ways for me to test that out. And I loved it!

How did you get your career start?

How I started

I graduated in Aeronautical Engineering and Economics and started as a data/strategy analyst in the air transport industry. There, I fell in love with the SaaS modelling tool we were using (Anaplan) and I was lucky that my manager at the time enabled me to focus on this part of the role to build on my strengths.

The move into Product

After a few experiences working with the tool, I became a “power user” and was recognised as part of the user community. So much so that I moved to the company, Anaplan, itself to shape their roadmap! I can’t thank enough the manager who hired me at the time despite my lack of experience working with an Engineering team: he believed in the transferability of my skills, that Product Management could be taught, and that my knowledge of the product and experience as a user would make me a great Product person. That's also one of the reasons I became a mentor: to help people in this situation, who want to move into Product Management. Not everyone is so lucky to find a hiring manager who's open to diverse profiles, so candidates have to prove they can do it. It's about having the skills, targeting the right jobs and positioning them in a way that highlights the competencies that are necessary for product roles.

Growing into Product and beyond

From there, I’ve grown and am now leading the Data-as-a-Service offering, including the Engineering team in a smaller company where I’ve got the chance to influence the C-suite.

I've also started building my personal brand and my own product by launching a podcast about Product Management. This has enabled me to meet with people from various backgrounds and perspectives, and I regularly apply the learnings to my professional life but also as a mentor.

What do mentees usually come to you for?

The number 1 request

Product Management has been quite a trendy role for the last few years so lots of professionals in related jobs (engineering, marketing, UX…) are trying to move into it, and they turn to me because I’ve been able to move into Product myself. Although there’s a lot of formal training available as well as good content that can be found online, employers usually ask for hands-on experience as opposed to theory only.

What we do during the sessions

While the first session with a mentee is focused on understanding their needs and laying out a plan, we quickly move into practical exercises and situations that they’ve encountered in their current role (and how they could apply product thinking to it) and that they could face as a Product Manager.

In between sessions

I like to refer the mentees to articles I've read online, or even to my podcast Product Perspectives, and we then discuss the learnings and how they apply to them.

What’s been your favourite mentorship success story so far?

I can’t choose a single one: from professionals in Technology and Marketing who wanted to move to Product Management, to entrepreneurs who wanted advice for launching their products, and non-profit organisations who built their services and product teams. I love the variety of profiles I meet!

Sometimes it's very practical coaching, but most of the time there's a psychological element to it: giving the mentee the confidence to move forward. Some of them have been rejected in Product roles several times and have lost confidence in their skills and abilities. My role is to help them figure out a way to succeed, by using the right approach as opposed to wasting their time and energy on things that haven't worked out.

The duration of the mentorship can vary but there’s no correlation between how many sessions we’ve done and the success of the individual in achieving their goals because it depends on the goals and the individual. For that reason, taking more time isn't a reflection of the level of the individual: each journey is individual and I customise my approach to every mentee.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?

Being a mentor has made me a better line manager in my current role, as well as a better person in general. I’ve learnt to listen with intention and be non-judgmental and supportive. Those are skills that I can use in my role as a Product Manager and also in my relationships! It’s also opened my eyes to the variety of profiles, roles, organisations, and backgrounds out there, and it’s forced me to adapt to different situations and challenge my perspective.

I would recommend to anyone trying out being a mentor, to see if you enjoy it and what you learn from it. If you don't feel comfortable yet, you may want to mentor a friend, and maybe on an ad-hoc basis.

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